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  1. #1
    ... Brittain's Avatar
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    Bar end shifters

    I really want to become a bike tourer eventually (I'm going to be doing a quick two day ride up to the Grand Canyon and back at some point this summer) and I frequent the touring section to get inspiration and information. I do have a question on bar-end shifters, though. I have noticed that a lot of dedicated touring bikes come equipped with them. The explanation I've read is that they are easier to maintain/replace and are more reliable. I guess what I want to know is if they are awkward to use for shorter rides (I also commute), or if you prefer "brifters."

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    Bar ends are fine for normal rides. The only downside I find is for group riding, when the pace suddenly changes and you need to shift immediately so you can stay in the paceline, it's not quite as quick. Also, you can't shift if you are standing. You definitely wouldn't want to race with them, but for commuting I wouldn't hesitate.

    I have integrated shifters on my road bike and bar-ends on my tour bike, and they both work fine.

    I never really made a decision about the bar-ends, just bought a touring bike that had them, got used to it (in about an hour) and never really gave it another thought.
    ...

  3. #3
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    They work fine for any distance.

  4. #4
    on the hard road....... SteveJ's Avatar
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    I've just bought a new trek and never had bar end shifters before, always had STI shifters. I don't have any problem with commuting (which i do daily), it did take me a little while to get used to, it's not as natural as with brifters but it's becoming so.

  5. #5
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    If you like brifters and are using the bike for commuting..... Get brifters. Try sprinting from a stop light with bar ends.... I'll look over my shoulder to see how far back you are.

    If all I did was tour with my bike. I could live with bar ends.... live with them. Not like them.
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  6. #6
    Day trip lover mr geeker's Avatar
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    ive never used those bar end shifters and, honestly, i think they look like they're awkward to use. about the only bar i can see them working well with, personaly, would be those trekking bars that are a pain in the butt to find anyware.
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  7. #7
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    Try sprinting from a stop light with bar ends.... I'll look over my shoulder to see how far back you are.
    I'm sorry, but that's just silly. I've done many fast group rides on bikes with bar-end and even downtube shifters, and never got left behind because I couldn't shift fast enough. If I'm a stronger sprinter than you, you're eating my dust no matter what kind of shifters either of us have.

    And we're talking about a bike for touring, not crits. Do you usually sprint with 50 lbs of gear?


    Quote Originally Posted by mr geeker
    ive never used those bar end shifters and, honestly, i think they look like they're awkward to use.
    They aren't. They're easier to use than downtube shifters, for example.

    Bar-ends aren't necessarily ideal for all uses, but they're perfectly fine for touring and commuting.

  8. #8
    Look Ma, NO hands!
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    I have both brifters and bar end shifters. Brifters on road bike, barends on my touring/commuter. The only shifter failuer I have ever had was with a Shamino brifter. It was working fine for one shift, and the next it broken!

  9. #9
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    Bar ends are alot cheaper and provide no penalty for use in touring. Brifters are more expensive and offer no advantages in touring that aren't gained also in unloaded riding. If money is an issue, get bar ends and spend the difference on a better rear wheel.

  10. #10
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    I'm sorry, but that's just silly. I've done many fast group rides on bikes with bar-end and even downtube shifters, and never got left behind because I couldn't shift fast enough. If I'm a stronger sprinter than you, you're eating my dust no matter what kind of shifters either of us have.

    And we're talking about a bike for touring, not crits. Do you usually sprint with 50 lbs of gear?



    They aren't. They're easier to use than downtube shifters, for example.

    Bar-ends aren't necessarily ideal for all uses, but they're perfectly fine for touring and commuting.
    you didn't see this ? And please don't tell me that it is as handy using bar ends for commuting as it is brifters. OP mentioned that he's going to be using it for commuting. In traffic brifters are superior. You can keep your hands on the bars and shift/brake and pay attention.

    I agree with the Bar ends over DT's though.

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  11. #11
    Senior Guest Andrey's Avatar
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    I had brifters on my bike during my first 600 km brevet and my hands were so tired of shifting a brifter, I wished I had a bar-end shifter- easier to shift when your hands are tired.
    Brifters are faster to shift(benefit if you are in a race), easier to shift on hoods but also they are more expensive, cable interfere with some of front bags and bar-ends are easier to shift on the drops.
    Last edited by Andrey; 06-24-09 at 07:14 AM.

  12. #12
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    i like a big handlebar bag. it seemed to fit easier with bar ends. shifting while riding in the drops is easier for me with bar ends. bikes get kind of wobbly at 4 MPH when grinding up steep hills under load. i ride in the drops a lot while climbing, and LOVE those bar ends
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  13. #13
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    In traffic brifters are superior. You can keep your hands on the bars and shift/brake and pay attention.
    You can keep one hand on the rear shifter and another on the front brake, both on the handlebar. You can also shift the whole cassette in one swing after some cage cuts you off.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Brifters are fine for your intended use. Many tourers use bar-end or downtube shifters for long trips because they are more reliable and easier to repair. However, if you are using your bike mainly for commuting or short tours, brifters are great. I've used brifters for years as well as downtube shifters, but put bar-ends on my new commuter/touring bike that I built up over the winter -- mainly because they are inexpensive and I wanted to see what they are like. I've got Dura-Ace bar-ends, which are about the best available, and they work fine but I don't see any significant advantages over downtube shifters or STIs. So, really, I think it comes to a couple of factors. Bar-ends are inexpensive, reliable and durable. However, they are not as easy to shift as STIs (brifters).

  15. #15
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Erick L View Post
    You can keep one hand on the rear shifter and another on the front brake, both on the handlebar. You can also shift the whole cassette in one swing after some cage cuts you off.

    This is just goofy. He is going to make a small tour. He will be using his bike for commuting. If that is the case then brifters are the superior choice. Nothing wrong with bar ends if that is what you like. Never did I say that they don't work. I said that in traffic brifters are a better choice. period. If you don't want to believe that or drink the bar end koolaid.... be my guest.

    Again.. to repeat. For a bike that does most it's time in traffic and commuting. Brifters win. Bar ends second and down tubes......... never if possible.

    Or just get a fixed gear and don't worry about it
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  16. #16
    Senior Member foamy's Avatar
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    If you have STI already on your bike why bother with bar ends? There is no advantage at all. None.
    None.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe View Post
    They work fine for any distance.
    (In my opinion.) I like bar-ends, and have them on both my bikes -- a Trek 520, on which I commute to work most days and (will soon!) tour, and an Airborne Carpe Diem, on which I do longer/hillier weekend rides, and centuries.
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  18. #18
    slow 'n' steady
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    bar end shifters have been wonderful for me. i'm not sure how others use them, but i grasp the tail of the bar and use the heel of my hand and pinkey and ring fingers to shift. that still leaves a decent grip on the bar for control. when shifting in traffic i generally have hand in reach of the front brake and the other shifting the rear, or visa versa and never feel at a disadvantage.
    bar ends just feel solid to me. sti shifters annoy me in that when i grab the brake the lever has side to side play. i know it's in my head, but they feel less secure. when i grab the brake i don't like the loosey goosey feel of sti levers. maybe it's just my big paws pushing inward when i grab for the lever.

    it boils down to personal preference. saying that one is hands down better than another is what is silly.
    Last edited by camelride; 06-24-09 at 07:34 AM.

  19. #19
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    This is just goofy.
    OK, I'll agree to that.

    To be clear, I think he'd be fine with either setup. Brifters are easier to use, and that alone can be a valid reason to choose them. All I'm saying is that bar-ends work fine in pretty much any situation.


    Quote Originally Posted by kyadiver
    For a bike that does most it's time in traffic and commuting. Brifters win. Bar ends second and down tubes......... never if possible.
    Well, that's your preference, and again that's fine.

    For what it's worth, I use my bikes with downtube and bar-end shifters in NYC traffic all the time. I'm not thrilled by the DT shifters, but they do work just fine -- even in traffic and fast group rides.

    A test ride (which I assume is part of the plan) should be sufficient for Brittain to figure out what will work for him.

  20. #20
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I can't comment on "racer-oriented" aspects of shifters. That's never been my style of riding. I'm a recreational/tourer kind of rider.

    I've used downtube shifters, bar-ends, and brifters on road bikes, and thumb shifters, grip shifters, and rapidfire levers on mountain bikes. They all work fine in my opinion, (except for thumb shifters. I don't know why anyone thought those were good!)

    I think you can get used to any configuration, and even switch back and forth without too much consternation. I now have brifters on my regular road bike, bar ends on my touring bike and rapidfire on my mountain bikes. No big deal.

    I've heard tourers say that bar ends are better because if the index shifting fails you can always set them to friction until you can fix them. I've also heard they're simpler and less likely to fail. However, I haven't heard reports of brifters being prone to failure.

    My opinion is that whatever you choose will probably work fine and not fail during a tour. If I bought a bike with one configuration, I don't think I'd go to the trouble and expense of converting to another.

    Just my two cents.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Nigeyy's Avatar
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    Count me in as one person who doesn't like bar end shifters. I think it's a little strange to have shifters at the end of the bars (seriously, if you think about it, if you had a blank canvas and were asked to design or specify where shifters should go on a bike, who honestly would put them there?). Shifters there out of preference? No thanks.

    Even though I've tried them, it was only very briefly -enough for me to realize that I really didn't want shifters in that position! However, clearly they work as evidenced by the number of people who use them (though I do wonder if that is mainly due to the fact these are pretty much the only mainstream non-STI/non-Ergo gear changing option for road bars). And simplicity is definitely an advantage.

    However, why not have all the advantages? What about the barends with Pauls Thumbies? You get the simplicity and the convenience of more to hand shifting. Or DT shifters with Kelly TakeOffs (my own personal set up).

  22. #22
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigeyy View Post
    Count me in as one person who doesn't like bar end shifters. I think it's a little strange to have shifters at the end of the bars (seriously, if you think about it, if you had a blank canvas and were asked to design or specify where shifters should go on a bike, who honestly would put them there?). Shifters there out of preference? No thanks.

    Even though I've tried them, it was only very briefly -enough for me to realize that I really didn't want shifters in that position! However, clearly they work as evidenced by the number of people who use them (though I do wonder if that is mainly due to the fact these are pretty much the only mainstream non-STI/non-Ergo gear changing option for road bars). And simplicity is definitely an advantage.

    However, why not have all the advantages? What about the barends with Pauls Thumbies? You get the simplicity and the convenience of more to hand shifting. Or DT shifters with Kelly TakeOffs (my own personal set up).
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  23. #23
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyakdiver View Post
    This is just goofy.
    I know it's goofy, just like your argument. I'm just pointing out that you can have both hands on the bars. I certainly did shift several gears at once a few times after coming to an unexpected stop.
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  24. #24
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nigeyy View Post
    However, why not have all the advantages? What about the barends with Pauls Thumbies?
    That's what I use on my touring bike. I'm setting up a commuting bike with a single rear shifter on bullhorns. Some people ride on the straight section of the drop and bar-ends are actually closer for them.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  25. #25
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    Ah, the Elvis discussion -- it just won't die. Comes up at least twice a year.

    Answer: Personal preference. If you think it's anything other than that, read the above posts again.

    Personal preference. Despite what any one person says, there's nothing "wrong" or "non-intuitive" or "goofy" about either setup. It boils down to what one likes. (Wouldn't it be great if people just accepted that, instead of trying to convince each other that "their" setup is wrong???)

    -- Mark

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